The death of Theo Adam, it is the dusk of a god. From 1963 to the late 1980’s, the bass-baritone German has been one of the interpreters for the most requested for the role of Wotan in the Tetralogy . A leading role in a career that spans more than 50 years after the second world war to the beginnings of the years 2000. But if his fame is steadfastly committed to the work of Richard Wagner, he distinguished himself also in Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or Richard Strauss. Theo Adam died Thursday in Dresden at the age of 92 years.

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Theo Adam is one of those singers whose talent has erased the borders, including that of the iron Curtain. S. Lauterwasser/Lebrecht/Rue des Archives

Born in Dresden on August 1, 1926, Theo Adam incorporates a 10-year-old the renowned Dresdner Kreuzchor, where he sang until 1942. Conscripted into the German army at the end of the Second world War, he returned to Dresden after the armistice with the intention of becoming a teacher, while pursuing the study of singing. In this city ravaged by the bombing at the heart of a country that is not yet the GDR, musical activity gradually picks up its rights. The vocal qualities of Theo Adam the lead very quickly on stage: in 1949, he made his debut at the Semperoper Dresden in the Marksman Weber ; until the end of his career, it will happen on the stage saxon, to which he was extremely attached. In 1952, he joined the troupe of the Berlin Staatsoper. In the same year, he made his debut at Bayreuth in The Master singers, where he rubbed shoulders with the master Hans Hotter. He will be familiar with the festival until the end of the 1970s.

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As Theo Adam is one of those singers whose talent has erased the borders, including that of the iron Curtain. At Bayreuth, first, where he held all the major roles for his wide vocal range: Wotan, the Dutchman, Hans Sachs, Gurnemanz, Amfortas, Titurel, Heinrich the Fowler… In 1955, at age 29, he became the youngest Kammersänger of Germany. In the 1960s, it occurs on all the biggest stages in the world, from Vienna to Moscow, from Buenos Aires to Rome, from Brussels to Paris. What are these roles wagnerian that he will open the doors of Covent Garden in 1967 (Wotan), and the Metropolitan Opera in 1969 (Hans Sachs).

Theo Adam in die Walküre of Wagner: “Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind!”, 1967.

At the Salzburg festival, it shines from 1969 in Fidelio or The Knight of the rose. At the same time, he made his debut as a stage director, a job he will continue until the end of his career. From the 1980s, it opens more to the composers of the Twentieth century: a performer great of Wozzeck and Lulu Alain Berg, he also sings Stigmatized or Baal of Franz Schreker, Penthesilea / of Othmar Schoeck, Karl V Ernst Krenek…

In parallel to his operatic career, Theo Adam, illustrated in the cantatas of Bach, like Hans Hotter or Dieter Friedrich-Dieskau. In particular, under the direction of Karl Richter, whom he had met, the pre-war years, the Dresdner Kreuzchor.

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Paris was known for his Wotan or Amfortas. Among his most recent appearances in France, he will be remembered for her Moses, in Moses and Aaron at the théâtre du Châtelet in 1990, with the Philharmonic under the direction of Marek Janowski. Three years later, he is The Rock in a memorable Capriccio of the Paris Opera house, taken by Felicity Lott. In 1997, he found Titurel in the Parsifal signed Klaus Michael Grüber at the Châtelet, at the side of Poul Elming, Waltraud Meier, and Matti Salminen.

Theo Adam in The ghost Ship of Wagner: “Die Frist ist um”, 1968.

Theo Adam had to say goodbye to singing in 2006, in Dresden, where he lived, and in the Marksman from its beginnings. Fortunately, the testimonials at the drive of his art are extremely numerous ; more than a hundred just for the operas. It remains the Wotan of two integrals: one munificente recorded live at Bayreuth in 1966 by Karl Böhm, with Wolfgang Windgassen, Birgit Nilsson, James King, Leonie Rysanek, and the Tetralogy of Marek Janowski at the head of the Staatskapelle Dresden in 1980. From Dresden, also, meistersinger directed by Karajan in 1970 to hear the Hans Sachs of Theo Adam. The ghost Ship where he gives a reply to Anja Silja, under the direction of Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia, 1968) is still a reference to its assets. Just as the Fidelio recorded with Gwyneth Jones and James King in 1968.

Theo Adam in Giulio Cesare in Egitto of Handel: “Empio, dirò, tu sei” (in German), 1981.

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